School District 69 is looking at upgrading the dilapidated cinder-running track at Ballenas Secondary. — File photo

RDN wants to play role in Ballenas track upgrade

Bringing dilapidated facility up to standard could cost close to $1M

The Regional District of Nanaimo wants to play a role in the Ballenas track upgrade project that the Qualicum school district recently initiated.

Electoral Area H director Stuart McLean made a motion at the Oceanside Service Committee meeting on Sept. 12 that the regional district request a seat for a representative to sit on the steering committee SD69 is forming for the project.

The RDN board endorsed the motion at its regular meeting on Sept. 17. However, it was not unanimous with Electoral Area E director Bob Rogers and City of Nanaimo director Jim Turley opposing it.

McLean also proposed RDN recreation staff work with school district staff, steering committee and consultants to develop a detailed plan using up to $100,000 of funds that have been earmarked in the 2019 budget for this purpose. However, the RDN board deferred this until the school district has responded on its request for representation on the steering committee, and receipt of a staff report.

The issue of not allocating funds for the projects stems from most of the members lack of knowledge and information on the sad state of the Ballenas track.

McLean pointed out the track resurfacing plans has been outstanding in the last 15 years. He doesn’t mind deferring the matter for another month.

“We will have more information and hopefully everyone would be more comfortable with spending the $100,000 that we’ve already decided that should probably be spent for this project that’s in our plan,” said MacLean.

Electoral Area F director (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) also indicated that the Ballenas track upgrade is not a recent issue.

“This is not exactly new. I know this might be new to some folks who weren’t around when it was all happening,” said Salter. “But it isn’t new. I think if it will calm nerves and help everyone to understand what this is about, then I am willing to defer this inorder to help eveyone become educated and understand what this is all about.”

Parksville Mayor and director Ed Mayne and Town of Qualicum Beach Mayor and director Brian Wiese are not willing to endorse any funding until more information has been reported to the RDN.

“Just because we have $100,000 in the budget doesn’t mean we have to spend it,” said Mayne. “And so, in my mind, we don’t know what we’re spending it on. We haven’t had no conversation regarding this so far as the committee. I think just committing to it right now is a foolish thing to be doing. There’s no frugality in doing this. I agree with a track in the area of some sort. We sat down with the trustees of the board of education they specifically told us specifically that a track would not fit on their property. I am not sure where I am getting my information from.”

The school district recently made a commitment to look at the feasibility of upgrading the dilapidated cinder running track at Ballenas Secondary. The plan is to build a six-lane oval with an eight-lane sprint track. The cost is estimated to be close to $1 million.

The school district board of trustees has approved $200,000 as an initial funding to get the project going.

The upgrading of the Ballenas track is one of the priorities highlighted in the RDN’s Recreation Services Master Plan for District 69 that was completed last year.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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